Federal workers furloughed due to the partial government shutdown may apply for unemployment benefits to help them meet their financial obligations while they wait to return to their jobs.

“Washington stands ready to assist federal workers in our state,” said Employment Security Department (ESD) Commissioner Suzi LeVine. “Just like other workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own, federal workers have the unemployment safety net to help them through this difficult time.”

Federal employees may apply for benefits at ESD.wa.gov or by phone at 800-318-6022. The day they should call depends on the last digit of their social security number.

Due to the shutdown, furloughed workers should be prepared to provide verification of their wages when requested because ESD may be unable to reach their employers to verify their wages. Valid documents could include copies of pay stubs or W-2 forms.

ESD has posted a web page with more information for federal employees affected by the shutdown.

More than 73,000 federal employees worked in Washington as of the first quarter of 2018. ESD has received unemployment benefits applications from roughly 1,000 workers since the furlough started, including those furloughed and workers who were laid off for other reasons.

As required by law, workers who receive back pay should plan to repay any benefits received.

Washington’s unemployment insurance claims centers stand ready to help federal workers affected by the partial government shutdown.

Unemployment applications are taken online or by phone (see Q&A below) because there are no longer “unemployment offices” in Washington state.

If you do not have Internet or phone access at home, you may use these services at your local WorkSource.  However, please be aware that WorkSource employees provide employment services; they can not process unemployment claims and do not have the expertise to answer questions about unemployment benefits.

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